I’ve drawn the short straw and ‘volunteered’ to drop off a transformer or six somewhere in the depths of Ireland. By ‘depths’, I mean I have a map on the back of a cigarette packet, and instructions to meet Vinnie in an unmarked quarry at 8pm tomorrow night.
And when I say ‘volunteered’, I mean I felt sorry for Little Dick who would prefer to see his daughters than mess about on ferries to Dublin again. You see, it’s his load that is going, not mine. In a weak, regrettable moment of generosity, I said I’d take it. We swap trailers; he will go home after the show and I will head up to Holyhead yet again.
First though, I have my pal, Jon, to visit. (Some may know him better as “Wrecker Jon”, due to an unfortunate accident on a Depeche Mode tour in Russia.) He lives only quarter of an hour away from Birmingham’s NEC, and picks me up for a little jaunt to Meriden, the centre of England.
Now that computers – and therefore GPS – have taken over our lives, Meriden has been found to be no longer dead centre. Coastal erosion has seen to that. A field nearby now holds the honour, but the monument itself remains on a patch of grass in the village of Meriden – to all intents and purposes still marking the spot.
As well as two pubs and a chip shop, there is also a memorial to cyclists that died in World War II. Odd? Yes, until an informative Jon reminds me that the Triumph factory is only round the corner, and that there are lots of bicycle manufacturers in Coventry, spitting distance away.
And did you know that Steve McQueen once picked up a motorbike from that very factory?
Back at Jon’s pad in sunny Tile Hill, his partner Kim is chained to the sink. Nice one, Jonboy. I’m only joking, of course, wholly in favour, as I am, of men doing the washing-up. Anyway, Jon used to bumble about trucking for bands – my partner in crime, if you like, in the old days – but he now runs a guitar studio, unsuccessfully.
I feel a little glum that, despite being lead guitarist for the most popular band in the Coventry area – and looking like at least one of the Gallagher brothers from Oasis – he can barely stretch to a tin of tuna for my baguette.
We exchange rueful glances over a glass of Spanish red wine – my contribution to the picnic. And as we reminisce, I realise how much I like Jon’s sense of humour, and what a cracking memory he possesses.
He reminds me that eight years ago I was arm-wrestling a Mafia boss in a bar in St. Petersburg, Russia, sending the tables flying and smashing glasses. Is it worrying that I’ve forgotten this event?
Well, that’s about it for the indoor leg of AC/DC’s Black Ice Tour. There will now be a short break before we start the outdoor (stadium) stretch of the tour – the first gig is in Leipzig on May 13th. See you soon..